I didn’t write anything for a few days, and nothing would be easier than beating myself up about this unfortunate fact. A common tip for content creators is to write daily — to turn writing into a habit. This doesn’t mean, of course, that you need to publish something new every day, but we mustn’t stop the flow as far as writing goes. Even I give this advice occasionally, and here I am, typing these words after a sequence of writing-less days. I have plenty of excuses, but none makes me feel better. Or so I thought.
Is taking a break from writing really a problem? Is it really that bad that I haven’t written anything on paper (or digital paper) for a few days? Maybe I am just trying to convince myself, but I argue the answer to both these questions is “No!”
Writing is not just about writing. Meaningful writing, as opposed to the technical act of typing words and sentences, relies on two preceding activities: collection and processing.
Collecting raw materials is vital for researching concrete topics we know we will write about. The collection activity is equally essential for coming up with new content ideas. No new insight will ever be possible without observing and collecting raw materials. The idea for this short post popped into my mind while taking a walk yesterday. I took a minute to capture it in my notes. I didn’t write any new content yesterday, but I’ve collected this idea, which is part of the creative process.
If you are observant and mindful and if you make sure to capture interesting things you come across or think about, you are engaged in part of the writing workflow. Think of it as refilling your pantry with new ingredients for cooking a great dish, whether today or sometime in the future. A day in which you’ve collected raw material is a day in which you have promoted your future work. It is anything but a wasted day.
Like many ingredients in cooking, the raw material we collect has to be processed before we can use it. Processing is the act of fusing things, coming up with new insights, or just contemplating something until you realize how it fits into your body of work.
Processing is thinking, and so, a day in which you merely thought about something relevant to your writing is an investment — you are setting the ground for the actual writing by thinking things through. If anything, this is what makes your writing better. Spontaneous writing could work, but a well-thought-out idea will help you articulate your message better and create a more engaging and effective text.
So, here I am writing after a couple of days in which I invested in other parts of the writing process: collecting and processing raw material. Yes, it is advised to write daily, but writing takes many forms and always starts in our minds.